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Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE)


Meet Our Expert Team

Principal Members

Dr. Brennan Spiegel is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Digestive Diseases, UCLA School of Medicine, and an Attending Physician in the Division of Gastroenterology, VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System. Additionally, he is Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and a member of the CURE Digestive Diseases Research Center. Dr. Spiegel attended Tufts University, majoring in Philosophy and Community Health, thereafter receiving his M.D. with Alpha Omega Alpha honors from New York Medical College. He received training in internal medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, completed a fellowship in Gastroenterology at UCLA, and completed advanced studies in Health Services Research at the UCLA School of Public Health, where he received a Master's Degree in Health Services.

While training in health services methodology, he received a Research Career Development Award through the Veteran Administration. Dr. Spiegel's research focuses on acid-peptic disorders, colon cancer screening, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, diverticular diseases, and functional bowel disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). His ultimate research focus is defining strategies that improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care for patients with digestive diseases. To achieve this goal, Dr. Spiegel conducts multiple cost-effectiveness analyses, patient reported outcome (PRO) research, health related quality of life studies, meta-analyses, epidemiological studies, provider surveys, quality indicator developmental studies, and other "outcomes" research.

Dr. Spiegel and his team are also responsible for developing many new technological innovations hoping to expand care outside of the provider visit. These developments include use of patient-provider electronic portals to support clinical decision making in electronic health records, use of social media as a clinical tool, and a range of wireless biosensors to track physiology remotely and in real time.

In addition, as Chair of the Rome Foundation Outcomes and Endpoints Committee and a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Gastroenterology Field Advisory Committee, Dr. Spiegel is focused on developing valid and reliable endpoints for GI clinical trials. Not only is Dr. Spiegel a peer-reviewer for numerous medical journals, but he is also seated on the editorial boards for both Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics and Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. He is currently an Associate Editor of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, and receives active funding from the NIH, VA, and industry sources. 


 Jennifer Talley Deputy Director UCLA VA CORE

Ms. Jennifer Talley attended UNC-Charlotte, where she received her undergraduate degree (magna cum laude); her Master's of Science degree in Public Health was received, with honors, from UNC-Chapel Hill. Ms. Talley's research interests at Carolina were primarily focused on comparing the effectiveness and net benefit of complementary and alternative therapies with traditional medical treatments. She moved to the west coast upon completing her degree to pursue a career in health services research.

The development of Patient Reported Outcome (PRO) measurements is Ms. Talley's current project; developing measuring instruments in a variety of GI conditions for eventual use in clinical trials. She is also focusing on the development of surveys that provide critical insights into provider, patient, and system-wide issues that affect healthcare outcomes.

Ms. Talley has worked on multiple research studies focused on improving the quality of care for veterans; these include: a health literacy study aimed at improving colorectal cancer screening and education materials for veterans, and the development of an educational booklet for patients on how to better prepare for a colonoscopy exam, which improved preparation quality and polyp detection.


Principal Collaborators

Dr. Roger Bolus UCLA/VA Center for Outcomes Research and Education

Dr. Roger Bolus is the Principal Psychometrician for the UCLA/VA Center for Outcomes Research and Education. Dr. Bolus specialized in the area of research methods, measurement and evaluation; the field in which he received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1981. His post-doctoral work was done at the UCLA Department of Pediatrics and Neuropsychiatric Institute. Since then, he has engaged multiple research and development opportunities, including applied research and development at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; HealthNet, a 1 million member HMO is southern California; and Pfizer Health Solutions, wherein he directed the development and evaluation of chronic disease programs. Dr. Bolus began his collaboration with UCLA/VA CORE in 2002.

Dr. Bolus' research efforts have focused on the study of health services and disease processes and the application of psychometric research principles to said services. His work includes measuring and defining medical outcomes and cost-effectiveness assessments of hospital-centered and population based health improvement programs. Throughout this time, he has specialized in the development of reliable and valid questionnaires to measure satisfaction, quality of life and health functioning in a variety of patient populations. He is currently interested in research on the mind-body connection.


 Corey Arnold PhD UCLA

Dr. Corey Arnold's main interests are in clinical information retrieval and disease modeling with observational data. More recently he has begun to utilize social media as a ground breaking forum from which to obtain health information.

Dr. Arnold attended University of Wisconsin, where he received his Bachelors in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science. From there he moved onto UCLA, where he earned his Master's in Biomedical Engineering and his PhD in Information Studies. As Principal Investigator for an exploratory research grant in statistical modeling in the Department of Radiological Sciences at UCLA, Dr. Arnold has also been an important Co-Investigator on a various number of projects, including creation of an observational acute stroke decision-making model, and a patient portal enabling patients to retrieve health information.

Dr. Arnold has been an active collaborator in CORE's social media endeavors, most recently working on harnessing the power of social media to illuminate the patient experience in patients with various bowel diseases.


 Dr. William Y. Chey

Dr. William Y. Chey is the Director of the Gastrointestinal Physiology Laboratory and Co-Director of the Michigan Bowel Control Program, as well as a respected professor. Dr. Chey attended Emory University School of Medicine, where he received his medical degree and training in internal medicine. He also completed a fellowship in Gastroenterology from University of Michigan. His research interests lay within diagnosing and treating functional bowel disorders, acid-related disorders, and H. pylori infection. Dr. Chey has received funding for his research from federal and private sources.

Dr. Chey and his group are currently collaborating with CORE on a joint study entitled Automated Evaluation of GastroIntestinal Symptoms (AEGIS) Platform.


  Dr. Robert A. Dennis is the managing director of the Computing Technologies Research Lab (CTRL) at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, where he also received his PhD. His research interests and current projects focus on clinical and research data collection, Internet-based decision support authoring tools, interactive educational technology, database design and development to support online research systems and community web applications. Dr. Dennis is also the creator of the Mind-Matrix knowledge mapping system.

Currently, Dr. Dennis and his group work closely with CORE staff to provide programming and technical support to various projects, including Automated Evaluation of GastroIntestinal Symptoms (AEGIS), and OPERA.

 William J. Kaiser PhD UCLA Wireless Health Instiute

Professor William J. Kaiser received a PhD in Solid State Physics from Wayne State University in 1984. From 1977 through 1986, his development of automotive sensor and embedded system technology resulted in large volume commercial sensor production in use today as a member of Ford Motor Co. Research Staff. He also developed the first spectroscopies based on scanning probe microscopy for microelectronics system characterization at Ford and JPL. From 1986 through 1994, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he initiated the NASA Microinstrument program for distributed sensing and led instrument development for the prototype Mars rover. In 1994, Professor Kaiser joined the UCLA Electrical Engineering Department faculty. In collaboration with Professor Greg Pottie, he initiated the first wireless networked microsensor programs with a vision of linking the Internet to the physical world through distributed monitoring. This continued research includes the topics of actuated sensor networks for environmental monitoring, networked embedded systems, low power integrated circuits and systems for wireless networked sensing.

While collaborating with the UCLA community he has developed the new field of Wireless Health and the new UCLA Wireless Health Institute (WHI). WHI now includes products in clinical trials supporting over 1500 subjects and over 20 programs focused on advancing patient outcomes, promoting health and wellness, creating new healthcare delivery methods, and also advancing human performance. WHI monitoring systems are applied to detailed human motion sensing and visualization, wound care, circulatory system diagnostics, joint diagnostics, digestive system monitoring, electrophysiology monitoring, and others. WHI has also developed products that are now in use for wound care as well as motion classification in areas ranging from neurological rehabilitation to elite athletics. Other WHI products include a Gateway embedded system for an instrumented Flight Mask for the F-22 fighter.

Professor Kaiser served as Electrical Engineering Department Chairman from 1996 through 2000, and his work is widely respected. He has received the Allied Signal Faculty Research Award, the Peter Mark Award of the American Vacuum Society, the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, the Arch T. Colwell Best Paper Award of the Society of Automotive Engineers, two R&D 100 Awards, the Brian P. Copenhaver Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology, the 2007-2009 Gold Shield Faculty Prize, and Best Paper Awards at the BodyNets 2008 and Wireless Health 2011 conferences. He has been general chair and started the Wireless Health Conference series that is now the lead conference in the field.


 Dr. Fasiha Kanwal

Dr. Fasiha Kanwal is Associate Professor of Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine (TX) in association with the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and is the Principal Health Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) Specialist for the UCLA/VA CORE. Dr. Kanwal received her medical training in Pakistan, and subsequently gained advanced training at UCLA in Gastroenterology and Hepatology. She received her Master's Degree in Health Services through the UCLA School of Public Health, with a special emphasis in biostatistics and HRQOL research.

Dr. Kanwal's research interests include HRQOL in Hepatitis C/HIV co-infected individuals, the impact of the Mayo End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score on transplantation outcomes, and the cost-effectiveness of competing management strategies in Hepatitis B. Along with other members of the Center, Dr. Kanwal has helped to refine methods retrospectively estimating the minimally clinically important difference, or "MCID," for HRQOL scales. She is published widely, in several high-impact journals, including Annals of Internal Medicine, Hepatology, and the American Journal of Gastroenterology, among others. Dr. Kanwal has received research support from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) to study methods of measuring HRQOL in chronic liver disease.



 Kathy Oka CORE Project Manager

Kathy Oka is CORE's Project Manager. She received her Bachelor degrees from University of Southern California and University of Puget Sound. Kathy brings with her extensive experience from her years of working at UCLA in various Health Science Departments including Deans Office School of Medicine, Radiation Oncology, Orthopaedic Surgery, and Department of Medicine. Her knowledge of the University and Healthcare systems is invaluable. Her most recent position as the GI Fellowship Coordinator at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA make her an integral part of the CORE team as she lends her knowledge of management as well as four years working with the team's Director Brennan Spiegel. 


 Mark Reid UCLA/VA CORE Mark Reid received his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Stanford University, where he also earned the D. Powers Booth Writing Award for a project examining how the use of the atomic bomb during World War II reshaped American culture. Mark gained a broad interest in how stressful experiences shape physiological and psychological disease manifestation and vice versa. Subsequently, he earned his Master of Arts degree in psychology from San Diego State University, conducting experiments on the physiological and psychological effects of social ostracism. His thesis examined sociocultural correlates of changes in levels of depressive affect in American high school and college students over the last 50 years.

Mark recently completed a clinical psychology doctoral program at the University of Oregon. He has taught classes in statistics, the psychology of gender, and the interplay between culture and mental health for several years, classes for which he received the department's Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award. He also regularly saw clients at the university and in community clinics, where he treated individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, substance use problems, and psychosis using cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and other empirically-supported treatment modalities. Mark has developed a program of research that broadly examined how stressful life experiences and genetic vulnerabilities shape a variety of psychological disorders - major depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. His dissertation focused on how gene-environment interactions alter individuals' cortisol reactivity in stressful situations. This phenomenon underlies a variety of disorders - most psychological, but also cardiovascular, digestive, and endocrine diseases - and may provide insight into development of treatments for these disorders.

Mark now applies his diverse skill set to public health problems, most often at the intersection of stress and disease. Currently, he serves as the lab's statistician, offering his extensive knowledge of research design and quantitative analysis to a variety of projects that address disparities and inefficiencies in the modern health care system. He also drafts grant proposals and manuscripts, maintains project databases, and provides general technical support.


Cynthia Whitman is a native of Philadelphia and attended Connecticut College where she received her Bachelor of Arts in both Economics and Urban Studies (2006). Following her graduation, Cynthia spent time in rural Thailand, teaching English as a Second Language.

After returning to the U.S., Cynthia began as a Research Assistant at the Harvard School of Public Health's FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. She focused her research on the mental health in ex-child soldiers. This experience inspired her to take a more focused interest in public health. To meet this end, she moved to East Africa, working as a Field Officer in HIV/AIDS testing, counseling, and education with the Uganda Virus Research Institute. In 2011, she received her Master's in Public Health, from the Epidemiology Department at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA.

In addition to grant proposal and manuscript writing, Cynthia's current project-based activities include: designing and testing patient-reported outcome (PRO) instruments, measuring the dynamics of symptom changes over time, conducting focus groups and cognitive interviews with patients, using social media to better understand the 'illness experience' amongst patients with various GI conditions, and performing qualitative, statistical, and conjoint analyses using various software methods.

Her research interests include international population health, infectious disease control, and improving health-related quality of life.



Garth Fuller attended Cornell University, receiving his Bachelor of Science in domestic animal biology. While at Cornell, Garth captained the Big Red men's soccer team to an Ivy League championship and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA national tournament.

Following graduation, Garth spent eight years teaching middle and high school biology and chemistry. After earning a Master of Science in Life Sciences from the University of Maryland, he began work here at CORE. Having received AHRQ/RAND grant funding for doctoral training, Garth began pursuing his PhD at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Health Policy and Management program. His research focus centers on the demographic and behavioral factors that influence health regimen compliance.

Garth serves as a "utility man" at CORE, lending his knowledge of statistics, SAS programming, and qualitative research analysis to a wide range of projects.

 Bibiana Martinez UCLA/VA CORE

Bibiana Martinez is a research coordinator at CORE. She was born and raised in Colombia and moved to the U.S. to earn her BA in Anthropology from the University of Florida in 2004. Her interest in public health began as she took on a case manager position at a community-based HIV/AIDS clinic in Miami after her graduation. In 2006, she moved to New York City to work with asylum seekers from Latin America, organizing a lobby effort called "Promotoras de Salud". She worked educating individuals about healthy reproductive health options. While in New York, Bibiana earned her Master's in Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in 2009. While in school, she coordinated a qualitative study on contraceptive preferences among low income youth in New York City, evaluated an emergency room navigator program at the New York Presbyterian Hospital and participated in the implementation of a reproductive health initiative targeting high-risk adolescents in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

Bibiana comes to CORE from the Children's Hospital Los Angeles Division of Adolescent Medicine and Kaiser Permanente's Department of Research and Evaluation. She has experience with quantitative and qualitative research looking at substance abuse among youth in Northeast Los Angeles, and risk factors associated with herpes zoster in elderly patients in a managed health care setting.


Research Fellows

  Dr. Christopher Almario is a research fellow in the UCLA Digestive Disease Fellowship Program. Originally from San Diego, CA, he earned a BS in Bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He moved to Philadelphia, PA, earning his MD at Jefferson Medical College completing his Internal Medicine training at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.

His research interests include health services research, clinical informatics, and developing technologies to improve health care delivery. He was recently awarded an NIH T32 GI Training Grant and will be pursuing a MS in Health Policy and Management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.


Dr. Fola May is a STAR fellow in the UCLA Digestive Disease Fellowship Program. While she attended Yale University to pursue a BA in Biology, followed by a Masters of Philosophy in Epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, England, Dr. May is originally from Southern California. Fola went to Harvard University Medical School, completing her training in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Her research interests include access to care, inequities in utilization of preventive services, colon cancer screening and surveillance, and patient education. Her professional passion includes providing health care in health clinics in East Africa. She was awarded a T32 NIH GI Training Grant and is currently pursuing a PhD in Health Policy and Management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

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